LABELS: Tumi Music
PERFORMER: Felix Baloy’s Cuban Son All Stars
CATALOGUE NO: TUMI 127
The number of Cuban recording groups with similar names and overlapping personnel is enough to confuse most people. Felix Baloy’s Cuban Son All Stars are different from the Afro-Cuban All Stars. Then again Baloy was a vocal mainstay of the Afro-Cubans, and with his own band he’s also making down-the-line mainstream music.
It’s powerful and persuasive, with a throaty, agile voice and rich brass scoring under the usual piano, tres guitar, and layers of percussion. Apart from a couple of slower boleros, Un poquito de fe is all in the son style, and most numbers seem to have more trumpets than violins in the orchestra.
The musicians play brilliantly, but they are at it all the time: they’d get thirsty if they tried to perform these arrangements live without a break or three. Half the point of a big band is to give an endless variety of lighter scoring, and that rather goes missing here.